Nelson school trustee candidates answered some tough questions Wednesday as part of the final all-candidates forum for the local elections.
The three trustee hopefuls — Bob Wright, Curtis Bendig and Bill Maslechko — were challenged by questions from the audience on class sizes, support for special needs students and innovative programs for schools.
Bendig, who is a new face to the trustee race, said he has had a great experience campaigning over the past two months.
He is focused on “fresh energy and new ideas” and is hoping to bring some new and innovative models to the table.
Sustainability, which has become a common theme through out the civic election, was also addressed by Bendig.
Incumbent Maslechko focused on what has happened in his time as trustee.
He said he believes the system is underfunded.
Maslechko also spoke about how he’d come in when there was a $4 million debt and with budget transparency hopes that won’t be repeated.
Fellow incumbent Bob Wright, who is a longtime resident of Nelson, spoke of his leadership skills and said that children and families at risk need to be given the support to succeed.
A member of the audience asked all three trustee candidates who they are responsible to.
Bendig responded by saying “everyone in this room and everyone in the community.”
Wright and Maslechko both said that while they are elected by the community they are responsible to the students.
Council and mayoral candidates echoed themes heard at the other forums talking about transit, shopping locally, sustainability and affordable housing.
The Occupy Nelson movement was addressed by the council hopefuls when Nelson Becker asked whether the occupiers should be allowed to stay at City Hall.
John Dooley and Donna Macdonald spoke of the challenges the city had initially in dealing with the occupiers because they were a leaderless horizontal movement.
Macdonald said the meetings have been “respectful” and the city has approached it from a place of compassion. Council hopeful Candace Batycki said she helped facilitate the meetings for the rally in October.
Paula Kiss said she would like to see the movement have more traction.
She also questioned whether City Hall was the right place to be protesting as it’s not a financial institution.
“Take the movement where their voice will be clearer and more effective,” said Kiss.
The dog bylaw was also put to the candidates.
Dooley said his dog Finnigan doesn’t like the bylaw, but he tells Finnigan there are other roads to walk down.
Bob Adams said perhaps council needs to take another look at the bylaw.